Friday, November 27

Giving Thanks

So much to be thankful for this year! Here is a partial list:

1. Scott found a job in Buffalo, allowing us to be near family...while we don't always love Buffalo, we do love our family and the relationships our girls are building with them.

2. My brother got married two weeks ago to a great girl. Welcome to the family Dani!

3. My parents celebrated their 31st wedding anniversary on Thanksgiving. What a beautiful thing. Thank you for your example Mom and Dad.

4. My sister is due with her second son in less than a week. She's feeling great and the baby is growing well.

5. We have a wonderful, warm home to raise our girls in.

6. Our girls are healthy, happy and developing so beautifully. Nothing makes us happier than to see the two of them playing together.

7. Ella is sleeping through the night!!!!

8. We have so many wonderful friends who are a part of our lives; those we've reconnected with in Buffalo, and those we miss and stay connected with in Massachusetts.

9.We have SO many things that we take for granted everyday; t.v's, televisions, dishwashers, warm beds, two cars, plenty of clothes, books, food, DVR and disposable diapers! The list goes on and on.

10. Scott and I have a wonderful marriage, but even more wonderful is our shared faith in God, which forms the foundation of our marriage and offers us tools to navigate through this crazy life together.

Thanking God for the abundant blessings in our life. 

Wednesday, November 25

One of those afternoons...

Here is a funny little mom story for the day. So, Scott and I are in the process of picking out paint colors for our house. We bought the house about 3 months ago, and have really been itching to make it feel more like "ours". Because colors can be so difficult to settle on, I've been buying all of these little paint samples to try around the house. Our two year old thinks it's pretty cool that mommy is painting on the wall so I've been letting her take a few swipes at the wall under my close supervision... (repeating incessantly, "now, Ava, we ONLY do this when MOMMY is with you and says so!")

Well, today, I had her painting on the dining room wall and her little sister (9 mo.) crawled out of the dining room and into the bathroom. While I knew I should have checked on her more quickly, she's usually pretty safe in the bathroom so I let her play for a minute while we finished our small spot on the wall. In the meantime, Ava proceeded to accidentally swing her paintbrush at my favorite black turtleneck leaving a nice big swipe right in the middle. While I ran to rinse my shirt out in the kitchen sink in an attempt to save it, I hear a battle ensuing from the bathroom.

Ava is mostly potty trained, but recently we've been bringing her small training potty up to the bathroom to practice pooping, which she's having a hard time with.  Well, of course, Ava had peed in her training potty earlier in the morning and did not tell me so that I could clean it out (she's supposed to pee on the big potty, so I don't usually check). Ella (9 mo) was in the bathroom, with the lid to the training potty up and shaking the bowl to watch the pee move around. Ava promptly  RAN to the bathroom and proceeded to try to pull the potty (full of pee) out of Ella's hand, saying "My pee, my pee, MYYYYY PEEEE!" So if you can picture the two of them playing tug-o-war with the small bowl that holds the pee to the potty. I enter quickly from the kitchen with only a bra on (I had just taken my paint filled shirt off to wash in the sink) to see what all of the fuss is about and find them fighting over the potty bowl with pee sprinkled around them and the floor. I promptly ban them both from the bathroom in tears and covered in pee and decided it was time for an impromptu bath.

And I wonder why I need a nap when the girls sleep everyday?!

Why do I share this? Why not, right? I figure if one of these days you think your day is feeling really really crazy, perhaps you'll think, "well, it's not as bad as pee and paint all over the place!" or maybe it is, but either way we're laughing together, right?!

Sunday, November 22

Chaos and Grocery Lists

Have you ever tried, for like 40 minutes, to write a grocery list, but you can't seem to complete the task because there is Christmas music coming from the living room, a two-year old shrieking as she dances to it, your 9 mo. old crying from the kitchen because she is frustrated that she cannot complete the task of completely emptying the tupperware from your cupboard ( a cupboard she shouldn't be in, but you haven't had the time to put locks on!), there are pieces to a peeled, but uneaten banana on the counter, all of your children's toys are in your living room because you are painting the playroom, and there are dishes and random pieces of food and wrappers from breakfast, lunch and dinner randomly strewn about the kitchen.

Is this just my life? Oh no, it's my husbands too...don't we feel better?! We just looked at each other and laughed out's all we could think to do.

It's 7:16 and here is the rest of our to-do list for the day:

  1. finish washing, drying and folding laundry
  2. clean entire kitchen
  3. finish painting playroom
  4. run to grocery store for groceries for the week
  5. have a glass of wine with husband who I haven't talked to all day
  6. read the Sunday newspaper
  7. write blog
At least I can cross #7 off my list...perhaps I'll write something of more substantial purpose tomorrow...

Friday, November 20

Mommy Faith

"How do I view the challenges in my life right now? Am I looking at them through the perspective of God's ability or my inability?...Faith grows when our eyes are on the Lord and we trust him to do what we cannot do on our own. Fear grows when our eyes are on ourselves and we forget God is with us." (From: "The Power of a Positive Woman", Karol Ladd).

Even though I grew up in a Christian home, and have been supposedly practicing this thing called faith for decades now (that makes me feel old!), I'm still not good at it sometimes. Especially during the times when all of the small things in life are adding up.

It seems that in the big things I remember to go to God. To be prayerful. To ask for help.Things like buying a house, or moving to a different state, or applying to graduate school or for a job. But, being a mom, it's about a whole lot of small things that add up over a whole lot of hours and days. It's the grind of cleaning and preparing meals and cleaning up after the meals, the laundry, the errands that need to be run late at night when we are tired but the kids are in bed, it's the waking in the middle of the night, and early in the morning, not having time to talk to your husband and tripping over mega blocks in the middle of the living room. All that stuff adds up. Somewhere along the line I figured God doesn't want to hear about how tired I am. How tedious this feels. How much patience it can take to get through a day. He has such bigger things to handle then my feelings of being overwhelmed.

I also feel bad praying about it sometimes because I feel as if I shouldn't be allowing myself to feel overwhelmed, or tired, or impatient. I feel like I should be MOM and with the title comes the ability to do it...but like Ladd's words above, I've been looking at the job through my inabilities. I forget sometimes, that God is with me, and think I should be able to handle this on my own. But, I'm learning to grow my mommy faith, to ask for help and to cast ALL of my cares on Him, knowing that He cares for us as we care for our children.

I may be mom, but God is God, and that is a whole lot bigger than I can comprehend and I am thankful for it.

Wednesday, November 18

Messy, messy, messy!

If I could summarize motherhood into one word it would be MESSY!

Right now, we have just finished dinner and here is a round-up of the situation here:

Our nine month old is still sitting in her high-chair, peas smeared all over her face, hands, bib, tray and in her hair, from rubbing her grubby hands there!

There are crayons, unfinished milk, a half-eaten cookie, an old cup of coffee, and dirty placemats on the table.

There is an old bottle, a jacket, one sock and diaper cream on the counter next to the kitchen sink.

There is an upside down car seat (thanks to two-year old play), a vinyl tunnel, an old bottle, a diaper bag and blocks on the floor in the dining room, (in lieu of dining room furniture which perhaps we'll buy when we're not spending over $100 a month on diapers, formula and baby food!)

There is an entire basket of toys (which I picked up before naptime) strewn all over the living floor...again! Along with a book, a CD, a teddy bear, the cover to a DVD, a pillow and a blanket and there is ANOTHER finished bottle laying on the couch.

Leftovers from dinner are still on the stove, dishes still in the sink, and speaker wires running all around the living floor (a project hubby hasn't finished because the evenings get so chaotic.)

My shirt is on inside out.

I won't begin to comment on the situation upstairs in the bedrooms.

And this is relatively clean compared to other nights!

Oh, bless the mess. It's no fun to be clean anyway!

Me, a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM)? Really?

The decision to stay at home or to work outside of the home is one that seems much simpler before you have children. If you had asked me in 2003 B.C.. (before children!), the year I was working as an editorial assistant at Houghton Mifflin in Boston, and living in a great apartment in Cambridge, the year I got married to my boyfriend of 3 years (now husband of 6!), and had time to workout and run 4-5 times a week, and read at my leisure, and, well do anything my whims designed…if you had asked me then I would have told you “of course I will work when I have kids! I don’t know if it will be full-time, but I will definitely work! I’d go crazy if I stayed home all day long!”

Oh, doesn’t perspective change quickly.

Fast-forward four years to 2007 when we had our first daughter. We had moved into our first house about 45 minutes outside of the city (a town closer to my husband’s job), I had just finished a year and a half as a high-school English teacher at a small private school and knew it was not a job I wanted to continue doing full-time with children at home. So, I finished the school year, they found a replacement and in June of 2007 I found myself a full-time SAHM…not on maternity leave, not with the possibility of going back, but full-time SAHM.

I sometimes feel like I more fell into the role than deliberately choosing it. Maybe the timing was meant to be because God knew if I had a job I really loved I might have loved it too much to leave; whatever the case, with mixed emotions I was and have been home pretty much full-time.

I did teach two courses at a local college while I was preggo with baby #2 and loved the balance of working two part-time days and being home three. I’d still love to find a good freelancing gig. I’ve done some writing for smaller newspapers and magazines, and would love to keep doing so—if only I could find the time (that is a whole other post!).

Although, the question of how or when I’ll work again is an ongoing one in my mind the following quotes from Dr.Kevin Leman’s book, “First Time Mom”, helped to reaffirm why I am making this sacrifice of career to be at home cleaning up cheerios crushed into the rug by my dancing toddler:

“Someday, that child you’re holding is going to be in his fifties…When someone asks him to remember something about his childhood, will he talk about the childcare worker who bandaged his knee? Will he talk about being tied into a line as he and fifteen other two-year-olds walked to the park with the worker—of—the month? Or will he talk about autumn afternoons and drinking a cup of hot chocolate while Mommy read his favorite book? Will your children think of home as a warm place if they are raised in continual daycare?”

Well, for as much as I don’t know, the one thing I do know is that, even though I feel like I am going crazy many days, I want my girls to be thinking of warm cocoa and books. So, for now, I’m going to work on being content and grateful for the opportunity to be able to be at home with them because if there is one thing EVERY mother I’ve ever talked to has said, “The time goes fast. Enjoy them while they’re young.”

Monday, November 16

Just Do It!

There is a good reason Nike coined this slogan. It has a LOT of relevance to our lives-- to everyone's life. They knew how often their own customers don't 'just do it' but wish that they would or had.

Think about it, how often do we put off doing things we know we should do? Sometimes they are things that we know would benefit our lives in someway, like eating better, or forcing ourselves off the couch and into the gym to run or even just walk on the treadmill. Sometimes they are steps towards a goal-- steps that we need to make just one at a time, but that we put off because the entire thing seems overwhelming; like writing a book, or training for a triathalon, or learning a new skill like fishing, or knitting or photography.

Well, I could go on and on about the things that I don't do during the day that I feel like I should, but that isn't my point. My point is that we all feel better, well, I feel better anyways, when I adopt the 'Just Do It' approach and get things done.

Here' s my example. In one of my posts last week I mentioned trying to gather the courage to make a phone call to an editor about freelancing gigs. The truth is, I've had the phone number and have put that phone call off for a good six weeks now. Why? Fear, quite frankly. Fear of rejection, fear of sounding like an idiot on the phone and never getting a writing assignment again, fear of actually getting an assignment and feeling incompetent enough to complete it. Silly, silly fear!

Anyways, one of my closest friends said to me last week, "Lisa, what do you have to lose?" My husband kept saying to me, "Lisa, what do you have to lose? You don't have anything now, so if she gives you nothing, you've lost nothing..." Right. Right. Right.

It takes a LOT of convincing for me sometimes, but this morning I finally said, "Lisa, just do it. You don't have anything to lose." So I did it. I called the editor. And you know what happened? After a slightly awkward start to a conversation that turned out ok in the end, she asked me to send her my resume and some writing samples and she'd let me know.

That's it.

No, "I think you're an idiot and don't think I have anything for you." No, "I don't think I like you so I can't help you." Not even, 'You know Lisa, I'm really too busy to talk to you, I'm sorry." All the things that I was afraid of had nothing to do with what actually happened. And you know what, maybe she's even going to call me with an assignment in the near future.

So, my encouragement is this, "Just do it"; whatever it is that you've been putting off. It probably won't be as bad as you think and it might actually even be good!

Friday, November 13

Mr. Froggy

Doesn't he make you smile?

Maybe this is the real reason I stay home with the girls...I like to make paper bag puppets!

In all seriousness, my 2 1/2 year old put this together earlier this week. It was super simple, and even though I did most of the work, she had a lot of fun watching and playing with the finished project. Now I don't want anyone thinking I'm super crafty mom (that would definitely be giving the wrong impression!), I'm just resourceful-- I picked up this kit at Wal-Mart for $2.00. It's from the "Martha Stewart Create" collection and they have a wide variety of animals-- zoo animals, farm animals, birds, etc. We have a bear and a dalmation yet to create.

The best part, there is no tape or glue or scissors involved! Everything is pre-cut and self-adhesive.

If the girls were older I thought it would be fun for them to have a little puppet show-- create a bunch of them, put a little stage together and prance and dance them around!

Maybe we'll table that for a rainy day...

here is a link to them on amazon...although Wal Mart or a craft store is probably cheaper:

p.s. I almost titled this entry, "What I Did With my College Degree Today" but I figured I'd downplay the sarcasm for now...but really, don't you have those thoughts sometimes?

Thursday, November 12

Letting Go of Expectation

You’d think after two and a half years of being a mother, I’d have embraced two of the most important rules of motherhood: 1.) Don’t set expectations for yourself, 2.) The ONLY thing you can expect during any given day is the unexpected.

Quite frankly, I think I’m dealing with the said unexpected much better these days. I know this because this is how my phone conversation went with my husband earlier today (the poor soul who bears the brunt of my unmet expectation frustration).

Me: Hey

Him: Hey, how’s it going?

Me: I promise this is the last time I’m going to call, I know you have work to do. (It was the 3rd time I’d called him in ½ an hour).

Him: No, really, I don’t have anything to do…(go ahead and laugh, the sarcasm was rising)

Me: Well, I dropped A (our 2 yr. old) off at playschool at 9:30, brought E (9 mo. old) home for her nap at 9:45. She was wide awake in her crib for an hour until I went into her room and she literally laughed at me from her crib. Now the playschool just called and asked me to pick A up because she’s been crying all morning.

Him: Wow. You’re not swearing at me yet.

Me (trying to be a more patient mommy and loving wife): Mmmm. No. Saving that for later.

Him: Can’t wait…

(Just a little backstory. A goes to playschool at a lovely church 10 minutes from our house once a week. I drop her off, E naps. I get 2 hours of free time to clean, write, whatever. The obvious EXPECTATION here: 2 HOURS of free time!)

Oddly enough, I was really doing ok. In the past I’ve called my hubby all gruff, and crabby and bothered. Today I was really glad that at least the sun was shining. I was rolling with the punches.

Never mind the fact that besides wanting to tackle a sky high pile of laundry, clean the pile of clothes off of my bed and wash our filthy kitchen floor that I was just starting to gather the gumption to call an editor I’ve been trying to gather the gumption to call for over a month to see if she had any freelancing gigs.

Maybe I was just glad to have another excuse not to call the editor. Or maybe I’m really learning to let go of expectations.

Whatever the case, E is screaming from her crib because she is on a nap strike today…and so I must go…

Tuesday, November 10

Be Patient and Laugh at Yourself

Several nights ago I sent my 2 ½ year old upstairs to put her pajamas on. She is at the age where she really wants to do things by herself. “I do it, I do it, I DO IT!!” is her mantra and so as often as possible, and as long as her safety is not an issue, I let her do things on her own.

In the temperament of many first-borns (myself included) she can tend to be a little stubborn about things. She often wants to put her own clothes on, buckle her own seat belt, she even insists on cracking her own eggs into a bowl when we are making breakfast (a messy habit that my husband started!) and so I let her do many of these things. The problem is, at 2 ½ she has the desire to do them, but often not the skill set to complete the task properly without becoming frustrated.

On this particular night I watched her walk upstairs and listened carefully to see what would develop. Sure enough, within three minutes I heard, “AHHHHHHHHH. MOMMY. AHHHHHHHHH. Whimper, Whimper, Whimper. ARGHHHHHHHHHH!” In typical 2-year-old fashion she has gone from happy to tantrum in 60 seconds and was screaming and crying at a very high decibel.

“Oh boy,” I said to my husband as I rolled my eyes with a smirk and walked upstairs. Though it sounded as if she were in dire trouble I knew she was really just frustrated about something she couldn’t do.

As I walked into her room I had to hold back my laughter as I found her on the floor. In an attempt to take her shirt off, she had managed to pull the bottom of the shirt over her head and around the back of her neck with both of her arms still in the sleeves. She was screaming at me with her arms locked in her shirt and struggling to pull it off.

I calmly walked over to hear, pulled her towards me and gently helped her get her shirt off. She was still crying.

“Honey, you have to be patient with yourself. You don’t need to cry and get frustrated. Just say, ‘mommy I need some help’ in a nice voice’ and I’ll be right here. Alright?”

“Uh-huh,” she whimpered in her saddest voice.

We finished putting on her pj’s and got her to bed. Even though the situation only lasted a few minutes I found myself wondering, “How do I teach a 2 year old that it is not necessary to get so frustrated so quickly? That there are more reasonable ways of reacting and working through such a situation?”

But as I asked myself the question I knew that part of the answer had to do with modeling such behavior. How often during the day do I get frustrated about small things?

Even when she is not watching, how often do I get frustrated with myself and throw personal temper tantrums about not exercising enough, about not being organized, about not writing more, or cleaning more or being able to find my pediatrician’s phone number or even my car keys instantly. Being a mom of two small children is a period that poses great challenges to my time, to my organizational skills, etc. and yet I tend to be really hard on myself about things I think I should be able to do, but realistically cannot do at this period of my life.

Being a mom leaves me regularly listening to the advice I give my daughter and wondering if my actions are matching up with my words. She may need to learn to be more patient with herself in the small tasks that she is doing, but so do I.

So I’m trying to be a mother to myself. To say, “Lisa, you have to be patient with yourself. You don’t need to cry and get frustrated. Ask for help, but also realize that with the best of intentions come limitations.” So that the next time I have a shirt stuck over my head I can model a more rational response, laughter perhaps, but certainly patience—something that reminds myself and shows my daughter that we need to learn to be nice to ourselves and that acting like a 2 year old doesn’t really get us anywhere!

Monday, November 9

My Pacifier Complex and the Unexpected Blessing of a Runny Nose

We have two daughters, one is 2 ½ and the other is 9 months old today. I have often joked about my role as a paci pusher. Our 2 ½ year old has a love affair with her paci—from the time she was small it would calm her instantly. It was the miracle tool that brought peace to car rides, it was our snooze button on many mornings, and it has been a comfort and security for many falls, bangs and bruises. She still looks forward to her 2 ½ hour-long naps in the afternoon when she can grab paci, ducky and blankie and curl up in bed, away from the worries and chaos of life. Even though I know we should seriously be considering an intervention to go paci free with her sooner rather than later, I enjoy the security of having a way to calm her during some of these moments and so I let it go day after day.

Naturally, when our second daughter came along I offered her a pacifier as well. Knowing the immediate comfort it had brought to her sister(and therefore myself!) so often, I thought for sure she needed one as well. She fought us on it in the beginning—spitting it out or making faces when we tried to put it in. She was colicky in the first couple of months, and during those days of colic I drove from drugstore to drugstore laying down good money for different brands of paci’s with different types of nipples in an effort to find one that would “work” for her. Finally, she took the paci, and it did seem to calm some of her crying. It seemed as if all woes were answered, until…

At eight and a half months the youngest was still not sleeping through the night. Ack! We blamed it on her colic, and then on our move to a new house, and then on teeth, and indigestion and…well, we were out of excuses and about out of our minds from the broken nights. Our oldest slept through the night at 3 ½ months—an amount of time acceptable to the new parent who is expecting to lose some sleep…but by six, seven, eight months…well, for those of you who have been there, you know the frustration. It would be nothing for us to have to go into her room four, five, six, seven times a night to plug her paci back in. Sure, she’d fall right back to sleep, but often we wouldn’t and the toll was beginning to add up.

Finally, just last week, my husband and I were lamenting the long nights that were sure to be ahead when we noticed our daughter’s runny nose. We propped her mattress up, put a humidifier in her room, wiped her nose as well as possible, and ran into her bedroom every half hour to forty-five minutes the first night of her cold—she couldn’t breathe through her nose, so she couldn’t keep her paci in, so she couldn’t sleep! The next day during one of her naps I decided putting her down without her paci to sleep wasn’t any more or less ridiculous than our running into her room every half hour and so I did just that—I put her to sleep without her paci and she slept for 2 straight hours!

That night, we thought we would try again and guess what? She slept the entire night, let me repeat that, the ENTIRE NIGHT without so much as a peep-- and then the next, night and the next night and the next night. She has slept through the night, with a runny nose and not a sound for six nights in a row now and we have finally figured out the culprit of our sleepless nights!!

So while her bigger sister keeps trying to push the paci on her when she cries because she believes it to be the ultimate answer to all of life's woes, at nine months our little one is paci free and we are all sleeping a whole lot better for it. Bye, bye paci. Hello sleep. Amen to that!

Oh, and by the way, today I'm thankful for:
1. Sleep!
2. Sleep!
3. Sleep!
4. And the beautiful and unexpected blue skies and 70 degree weather we have had here in Buffalo.

Thursday, November 5

In practicing gratefulness...

I'm thankful for:
- finding a great babysitter that my girls love.
- that my husband fixed that tailgate on our VW wagon so that it's not falling on my head when I pull the stroller out
- a spirited daughter who dances in a tutu and sings at the top of her lungs making her little sister cackle!

Keeping Up the Conversation

My oldest daughter turned 2 in June, the younger one is 9 months old—this means two things; that I’m a very busy woman and that I’m still fairly new at this whole mom thing. When we celebrated my daughter’s birthday I reminded myself that as she turned 2 I was turning 2 too—as a mom.

Becoming a mother has not been an easy transition for me. There are days when I really feel like I have my act together and others when the whole damn production is falling apart at the seams. I wish I could say it has been easier, because somehow I feel like that would make me a better mother, but it hasn’t been and so I force myself to continually re-evaluate, look for suggestions and support, and am trying to practice the art of gratitude, because I’ve heard really good things about people who are grateful!

The honest truth is, I don’t get an “A” for my attitude on a lot of days, and many parts of being a SAHM have been a challenge for me. So how does one cope? How does one learn? How does one adjust to the planet of motherhood?

It’s all about starting a conversation and joining in on a conversation that has been in existence since the beginning of time. Moms have always needed other moms. To talk, to learn, to rant, to remind each other that we are not in this alone and that it is hard sometimes.

Shortly after my first daughter was born a colleague of mine, who is also a mother, asked me an interesting question, “Do you feel like you were born to be a mom, or do you feel like it’s something you really have to work at?” Now, given that she seemed like the born to be mom type and I was definitely feeling like the “I really, really, REALLY need to work at this” type, I suppose I could have taken the question as a slight jab, but I honestly think she was just kicking up a conversation, about motherhood, likely a conversation that she was trying to process internally and I think it’s an interesting question to ponder.

Two years later I still don’t feel like the naturally born mom type. I don’t know how many moms feel that they are. I envy those that do. I think a lot of us find that we have to work at it, which is part of the reason I started this blog. It’s a work in progress, literally and figuratively. As I work at becoming a better mother I hope to share some of my experiences, which I hope are encouraging or at least provide you with a few laughs for the day. In turn I hope to hear from and connect with likeminded moms who can share their own frustrations and encouragements and maybe in the process we will all come out a little happier.